Valley Dance Theatre STARS 2014
Performing a tap combination at a studio competition.

Do you remember that Cyndi Lauper song and that one movie starring a young Sarah Jessica Parker? Both the song and the movie were titled Girls Just Want to Have Fun. The one thing that sticks out to me about both these twin titled medias is that they just make me want to dance. I’ve taken dance classes since I was two years old. I had just barely learned how to walk by the time I was signed up for lessons. I’m that person whose mom has always said “she was dancing before she was crawling.”

Now, I prefer tap, hip hop, and lyrical, but like all others, I started out with the basics- ballet. I remember hating the itchy tights and having my hair pulled straight back out of my face into a proper bun. I remember skipping in circles wearing a pink leotard and waving around a sparkly fairy wand. I remember needing to pee right before going on stage at recitals (which hasn’t changed) and my mom holding my face still to smear that fire truck red lipstick on my tiny lips. The list of positives and negatives is about equal when it comes to dance. About to head to college, I no longer have a dream of a man in tights holding me as I pirouette on one pointe shoe (because ouch), but I do still love to dance.

Very few people have a passion that is solely for themselves. I love to write and I want to share that passion with the world. I want to learn from others and grow with a community of people who share that passion. I want to make a living off of what I write and hopefully teach others what I learn.

Executing a turn in a lyrical competition combination.
Executing a turn in a lyrical competition combination.

However, unlike my writing, my dancing is for me. Dance is generally known as a performing art that is meant to be shared. To me, dance is a way for me to have fun and express my emotions at the same time. Growing up on the stage, I have decided to keep my dancing to myself until I feel confident with sharing it. This all started with the competition team.

The dance studio I attend didn’t always have a competition team. It wasn’t until a few years ago that our performance company was actually created. When we heard about the company it sounded wonderful. I tried out and made it on the team. Suddenly trips were being scheduled, costumes were needing purchased, and school days would have to be missed due to competitions. This all didn’t look so good and our financial situation didn’t meet company standards so I had to drop the team before it even began. To this day I do not regret ever having to leave the company.

Quickly, everyone became consumed by the competition and scholarships being awarded that anyone not in company didn’t seem to matter. My presence at the studio felt like a burden. I was scared to stand in the front of the room during class in fear of a company girl standing behind me not being able to see herself in the mirror. Smiling was a huge no-no even though the teachers were always yelling at us to use our faces. It was hopeless. What I once loved and enjoyed became a routine that I dreaded to continue.

Valley Dance Theatre STARS 2014
“Gettin’ hippy with it” during a hip hop competition combination.

Still, company members are favored over non-company members, but I have learned from experience something wonderful. When I discovered my passion for writing it was a relief. Suddenly routine dance classes didn’t have to be a burden any more. Suddenly, I didn’t feel lost in the world and I had meaning again. Once I came to the conclusion that there was something more than company, I remembered what dance meant to me. Dance is a release. Dance is not conforming to others. Dance is having fun and showing people what you’ve got.

After years of ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, modern, hiphop, and lyrical I am now only taking tap and hip hop. Tap is what I have stuck to and I am now choreographing in my own time. Hopefully, as I go into college, I will find a group of people just like me who aren’t looking to take strict classes or start a company but just want to be a group together not looking for competition but just having fun (and maybe making a little money teaching and throwing some playful dance-offs along the way.) Don’t ever let yourself be taken over by the masses. Don’t let competition and sassy girls always practicing dances you don’t know get in the way. Be yourself and love you, because once you get past the [passive aggressive] haters, who knows what walls you might break through.

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